First of all, I hope you all read that word in the headline as “mooed,” because, get it? Wordplay! Anyway, if you’re a dairy farmer this probably isn’t news to you, but for the rest of us out there with no cows to milk, it’s interesting to hear that a good way to get the cows producing is to play some soft, smooth, slow jams.
It’s not easy to relax in a noisy dairy, notes Modern Farmer at its lengthy look at the influence of music on milk cows that’s currently making the rounds on the Internet. Because of all that stressful noise, many farmers find that a great way to make happy cows and keep the oxtyocin flowing and milk pumping is to turn on some good music.
There have been studies on this kind of thing in the past, most notably a 2001 study by a pair of psychologists at the University of Leicester in England. They showed that slow music played at a large dairy farm increased cows’ milk production by 3%, in contrast to fast music which basically didn’t do anything.
But beyond the professional researchers, farmers themselves swear by their own music methods.
“In the days when there were tie stalls and stanchions, there was the discussion about how if you played music in your barn, you would increase milk production,” says one farmer who milks about 250 cows on her dairy farm in Minnesota. “At our farm you can always tell when the radio is not on because the cows are way more jumpy and less likely to come into the parlor.”
Others in the industry point out that slower and calmer is better. Some Barry White or Kenny G, perhaps?
“In terms of music, in my 30 years working with dairy cows, I have found that music can be beneficial to the well-being of the cows, but it must be consistent and calming,” says the executive vice president of a large dairy corporation centered in Boulder, Colorado. “If the music volume is kept constant and the style of music is consistent, and everything else in that parlor is well managed and maintained, music can have a positive effect on milk let down.”
Dairy farmers should unite to create a calming playlist for everyone to use — with songs like “Everybody Hurts” by REM and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” on the recommended list from the Leicester study, we’d like to think cows might like some updated fare as well. Adele does a great ballad, but let’s keep Miley Cyrus out of the parlors.
And definitely no Willie Nelson, says another farmer.
“Our cows will tolerate some country and western, but they do not like Willie Nelson,” she reports. Their milk production doesn’t drop, but The Redheaded Stranger just riles up the cows somehow.
Milking to Music [Modern Farmer]